What is the role of
engagement in the
work of Japanese
generations. In the
60s and 70s artists
like On Kawara
whereas artists in
the 80s focus more
on the history of
their own country.
Artists from the 90s
however, show thier engagement more lightly.
Humor plays a role; cartoons and other forms of
pop culture are used ironically to criticise Japanese
The impetus for the exhibition was the celebration of 400 years of relations between the Netherlands and Japan. Yukinori Yanagi and Yoshiko Shimada, both born in 1959, are quite different from the artists of the younger generation. The work of these artists reveals a strong political commitment and often contains references to Japans war years. Yukinori Yanagi is fascinated by the rusted wrecks of war ships that have been discovered on the ocean floor. The bronze work Pacific k100B consists of models of several ships that were active in the war in the Pacific. The focus of Yoshiko Shimadas work is a dark period from Japanese history that many would sooner forget. White Horse/Black Horse refers to the so-called comfort women, the Korean and Dutch women who were abused by Japanese servicemen during the Second World War.
The work of Yoshitomo Nara (also born in 1959) is a bridge to the younger generation of artists who have discovered a new form of Pop art. Nara uses cartoons, but beneath his drawings of sweet-looking children there is a forbidding undertone. Take a good look and you may see a razor-sharp knife in their hands or a devilish look in their eyes. The younger generation of artists, among them Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Momoyo Torimitsu en Tam Ochiai, aim more at the Japan of today. Momoyo Torimitsu made a name for herself with her performance with Jiro Miyata, the human robot, a salary man. Torimitsu had this doll crawl along the sidewalks of Wall Street, while she (dressed as a nurse) offered him assistance. The performance is also being performed in Amsterdam, especially for Dark Mirrors of Japan. Tsuyoshi Ozawa uses kitsch as a means of entering into conversation with his audience. His Soy Sauce Museum is set up as a museum of history. The works, which tell of the life and work of many Japanese artists, are all executed in soy sauce, the quintessential Japanese national product. Tam Ochiai combines logos from the commercial world with references to art history. Ochiais fascination with Warhol is apparent in his video Death Film, a collage of death scenes from a series of film classics. In Dark Mirrors of Japan, the political commitment of the older generation joins the mostly light-hearted commentary on modern Japanese society of the younger artists. The many-sided picture that emerges is typical of contemporary Japanese art.
Born in 1959 in Hirosaki, Aomori. Lives and works in Cologne and Nagoya. Exhibitions include: 1999 Institut fÃ¼r Moderne Kunst NÃ¼rnberg (solo exhibition) 1996 Tokyo Pop, The Hiratsuka Museum of Art, Hiratsuka City 1990 Galerie dEendt, Amsterdam (solo exhibition)
Born in 1967 in Yokohama. Lives and works in New York. Exhibitions include: 1999 The Bastard Kids of Drella, Part 9, Le Consortium, Dijon 1996 White Columns, New York 1995 Mito Contemporary Art Center, Mito, Ibaragi (solo exhibition)
Born in 1965 in Tokyo. Lives and works in Tokyo. Exhibitions include: 1999 First Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan 1997 Cities on the Move, Secession, Vienna, travelled to: MusÃ©e de Bordeaux, PS1, New York, Hayward Gallery, London, Kiasma, Helsinki 1992 Aoi Gallery, Osaka (solo exhibition)
Born in 1959 in Tokyo, Japan. Lives and works in Tokyo. Exhibitions include: 1998 Donaiyanen, LEcole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris 1997 Divide and Rule A Space Gallery, Toronto (solo exhibition) 1996 Galerie Apert, Amsterdam (solo exhibition)
Born in 1967 in Tokyo, Japan. Lives and works in New York. Exhibitions include: 1999 Abracadabra, Tate Gallery, London 1997 Zones of Disturbances, Steirischer Herbst, Graz PS1 National and International Studio Artists, Clocktower Gallery, New York
Born in 1959 in Fukuoka. Lives and works in New York and Okayama City. Exhibitions include: 2000 Biennial Exhibition in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York 1994 Japanese Art after 1945: Scream against the Sky, Guggenheim Museum, Soho, New York, travelled to: Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Yerba Buena Garden, San Francisco 1993 Aperto 93, Biennale di Venezia
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